What NIA said on Patna Modi rally blasts: IM, SIMI turned Chhattisgarh into a terror safe house

Terror outfits Indian Mujahideen and SIMI are trying to turn communally peaceful states such as Chhattisgarh into new hubs of terror activities. Investigation into the blasts at Narendra Modi's election rally in Patna on 27 October last year has thrown up this startling finding.

Debobrat Ghose August 25, 2014 16:17:16 IST
What NIA said on Patna Modi rally blasts: IM, SIMI turned Chhattisgarh into a terror safe house

New Delhi: Terror outfits Indian Mujahideen and SIMI are trying to turn communally peaceful states such as Chhattisgarh into new hubs of terror activities. Investigation into the blasts at Narendra Modi's election rally in Patna on 27 October last year has thrown up this startling finding. Chhattisgarh figures prominently in the charge sheet filed by the National Intelligence Agency in connection with the Patna bomb blasts of 27 October, 2013. The blasts had taken place at an election rally of BJP's chief campaigner Narendra Modi.

While consecutive arrests made by the state police in November and December 2013 revealed a conspiracy hatched by SIMI-IM combine to unleash 'fidayeen' attack on Narendra Modi during his pre-poll campaigns, it also jolted the people of Chhattisgarh to the rude awakening that terror plots are being hatched in their backyard.

What NIA said on Patna Modi rally blasts IM SIMI turned Chhattisgarh into a terror safe house

Representational image. AP

Of the 10 accused whom the NIA chargesheeted for their alleged involvement in the Bodh Gaya and Patna blasts on 7 July and 27 October respectively, four members — Haidar Ali alias Abdullah, Numan Ansari, Taufeeq Ansari and Mojibullah — took shelter in Raipur for over a fortnight immediately after the incident. They left Raipur on 15 November, 2013, a day after the rally of the BJP’s then prime ministerial candidate Modi in Chhattisgarh.

A key SIMI member, Umer Siddiqui, who used to run a coaching centre at Raja Talab in Raipur arranged a rented accommodation for the four terror suspects at Sanjay Nagar. "The arrest of these local SIMI members linked with IM could be made on the basis of monitoring of their suspicious movements and activities over the last three years and interception of calls. The IM operatives were in touch with Siddiqui for guidance," said ADG (Intelligence), CG Police, Mukesh Gupta.

"But, the IM operatives had managed to escape while we were trying to dig out information from the arrested local SIMI members, who acted as sleeper cells," he said.

Prior to Modi’s rally at Raipur in November 2013, the sleeper cell conducted a recee of the area, as the aim was to attack Modi during the rally, "But despite preparations, the terrorists failed because at the last moment they couldn’t get the arms and explosives for which money was already paid by them to their source."

Whether it’s the Naxalites or IM in Chhattisgarh, the sleeper cells have become active over the years, giving shape to major terror plots and unleashing attacks. The sleeper cell members of SIMI whom the police had arrested worked as teachers, property brokers, mechanics, auto drivers, glass merchants, welders, junk dealers etc to give cover to their underground activities.

"Since this state continues to be a land of communal peace, both SIMI and IM found it to be a perfect place for a hideout, where no one would suspect them. Both these groups must have been keeping a close watch on Chhattisgarh for quite some time," said Raipur-based retired bureaucrat and political analyst Sushil Trivedi.

The consecutive arrest of another SIMI member Salim Ahmed, a property dealer from Sanjay Nagar in Raipur on 13 December, 2013, revealed that he was involved in booking hotel rooms and raising funds for the alleged terrorists. The Chhattisgarh police claims that apart from holding a special meeting, a training programme was organised by Siddiqui along with Salim near Barnawapara Sanctuary — nearly 100 kms from Raipur.

Later, in another important catch, the Raipur police arrested a 22-year old SIMI and IM operative, Dheeraj Sao, a native of Bihar on 25 December, 2013. Sao, who had been running a roadside Dhaba at Transport Nagar area, was allegedly involved in raising funds for the banned outfits. After the arrest of 16 suspected SIMI activists from the state capital, the intelligence wing had been keeping an eye on suspects allegedly connected to those arrested. Sao came in touch with one Khalid from Pakistan in 2011 and since then he had received huge amounts from different bank accounts, which were later deposited in the accounts of IM operatives Jubair Hussain and Ayesha Bano in Mangalore, through his own account.

"Apart from the activity of sleeper cells, we also unearthed terror funding racket linked to IM," added Gupta.

If intelligence reports and the disclosure made by arrested IM mastermind Yasin Bhatkal during the course of his interrogation by the NIA are to be believed, a 'lethal cocktail' is fermenting in the backyards of Chhattisgarh. Intelligence sources said the fact couldn’t be ignored that similar to other IM modules like the Dharbhanga module, they were planning a Raipur module as well.

"Since Azamgarh, Bhopal, Indore etc are under the intelligence scanner, the terrorists chose Raipur as their hide-out," a source said. Chhattisgarh-based social economist Vivek Joglekar opines that the surge in SIMI activities or IM operatives in Chhattisgarh is not out of any discrimination or rage, but is due to crackdowns elsewhere.

"The IM operatives found Chhattisgarh a safe haven to hide and continue with their activities elsewhere. Even today when there are riots elsewhere in the country, you won’t ever find a reactionary incident in Chhattisgarh. Even after the arrest of SIMI operatives in Raipur, there was no sharp reaction from the Muslim community. Instead, people questioned how could such activities continue without the knowledge of the police," added Joglekar.

According to intelligence sources, Siddiqui, who has also been named in the chargesheet, had been mentoring one Azhar, to whom he was planning to hand over his Chhattisgarh mantle upon fleeing to Afghanistan.

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